Murray brothers pair up at Masters
We will never know whether John Lloyd erred in not selecting Andy and Jamie Murray to play Davis Cup doubles, but the next three weeks might give some indication as to whether they could have turned the match around against Austria last month.
The brothers are playing together here at this week's Madrid Masters and are set to continue the partnership in Paris in a fortnight's time.
Although the Murrays were less than impressive as a pair at the Olympics, they have enjoyed success in the past. Nevertheless Lloyd, the British captain, picked Ross Hutchins as Jamie's partner against Austria, preferring to save Andy for the singles. A straight-sets doubles defeat all but sealed Britain's relegation from the World Group, despite Murray Jnr's two singles victories.
Jamie split recently from Max Mirnyi, with whom he has had an indifferent year in doubles, and is looking for a new long-term partner. Andy said it had not been easy renewing his partnership with his brother, who has become accustomed to the set formations and strategies that regular doubles pairs use, but, significantly, suggested they might be a better Davis Cup choice than even a pair of established doubles players.
"If the team's ranked 30 in the world, should they play in front of me and Jamie or in front of me and Ross or whoever the combination is?" Andy said. "The guys who are No 30 in the world are very good, but I think I would pick myself to play over a guy who's 30 in doubles."
Murray believes Britain's next tie, at home to Ukraine in March, may well be staged in Scotland, despite the fact that the decision to play Serbia in Glasgow two years ago was not a major success.
"I was asked where I wanted to play," Murray said. "In all the matches I've played, Birmingham has been the best. I love playing in Birmingham. There were packed crowds and the atmosphere was great, but supposedly the venue is booked that weekend. I think there's a chance they might play it in Scotland."
After his thrilling run to the US Open final, Murray has been enjoying the relative calm of the last five weeks, punctuated only by national duty. He now wants to rebuild his form in time for next month's Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, where he has already earned a place in the elite eight-man field.
The world's top 30 players are all here, but Murray has a comparatively favourable draw. After a first-round bye his probable opponents would be Nicolas Almagro, then Marin Cilic or Fernando Verdasco, Fernando Gonzalez or Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals, and Roger Federer, David Nalbandian or Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are seeded to meet in the other semi-final.
*Anne Keothavong, the British No 1, won the Barnstaple Open yesterday without dropping a set, beating Italy's Alberta Brianti 6-4, 6-2 in the final.